Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Life in Progress, Inside the Box

From the Puerto Rican/Latino Journal

By Alberto O. Cappas
I remember when poets were messengers of vision and information, not always positive, but always providing us a mirror to see clearly and get us to move forward… but now, all I see are evil spirits, rappers, and self-made entertainers passing as poets, penetrating their spells on the youth, and continuing to keep them inside the box.

But they never provide you answers to solutions or visions that will show you the light or guide you to your personal journey on this planet.

I don’t have all the answers, but I will try to remove some of the layers of bricks between us and see if I can leave you with some clues to your confinement inside the Box.

You should be happy to know that the box has no locks or chains. It is completely opened and you can walk or jump out any time your heart desires, and become the person you were born to be…the person you are supposed to be…..

You can do and be anything you want to be, just forward your dreams and aspirations into your hands and activate an action forward. Like the Congressman Adam Clayton Powell once said:

“What’s in your hands?”
"What's in your hands?”

After 60 plus years on this planet, the least you can do is listen to my crazy poems, full of people not able to get out the box, hit hard by not learning or applying the secrets of having balance in their lives, and consequently, were destroyed by self-conflict, lack of proper health, and lack of emotional control.

The following poems are about you and me, our family and friends, especially those that are in the box, manipulated into the box by invisible but strong forces, like our local community leaders, our so-called elected officials, our rapper poets, M-TV, Television, which I call the idiot box, especially when we watch too much of it…

Listen to these poetic stories:

Poetic Story #1: Borinquen
Doña Rivera, The one everybody comes to when
They run into unresolved situations
Was sold the Moon yesterday
She was very happy ‘cause the
Salesman gave her a break
Telling her she did not have to pay taxes on it
“It was tax free”
He told her
All her neighbors were surprised
That she accomplished such a big thing
So they assembled and celebrated her new fortune
They decided that Doña should
Keep it a secret or else the welfare department
Would come and take the Moon away from her
Time passed and Doña Rivera became a very proud woman
At night, especially when the
Moon was bright and in full view
Doña Rivera would stay up late and admire the beauty of her new possession
On weekend nights
She would invite her relatives and best friends over to share the experience with them….
She would tell her friends and relatives
“In this country
You have the freedom to buy anything you want”

Poetic Story #2: Doña Julia
Doña Julia Committed suicide last night cause the welfare department
Demanded too many documents she did not know existed
The utilities were removed
The landlord proudly gave her eviction papers
The friendly bodega accused her of trespassing
Holding on to hope
Doña Julia visited Puerto Rican leaders with fancy titles
Promising her things that never arrived
Doña Julia
Always made it a point to vote with the democrats,
The party of the poor, she used to say…
Doña Julia
Committed suicide last night because life was angry with her
Revealed to her by the spirits…
That is what she said…
And the people that didn’t know her
always found things to say about her….
With fancy titles
Her daughter Evelyn disappeared with this dude named Hector who promised her every thing he didn’t have
And her son Josè
Who dropped out of school at the age of 10
Always took money from Doña Julia
To pay his expenses and other things for the dead head
He too disappeared looking for his friends who were never around when he didn’t have anything
Doña Julia
Committed suicide cause life was angry with her
Her dead face had a smile that police officers did not understand
Someone that did not know how to read found a note and flushed it down the toilet thinking it had something
To do with the numbers
The note said something about
“One way or the other
I’m going back to Puerto Rico.”

Poetic Story #3: Maria’ Journey
She was sitting there
The lonely traffic passing by
Thinking of yesterday when Mommy
Used to cry in protest
The warm air freezing her body
Listening to broken down voices of edited confusion
Subway rides traveling to nowhere
The wino on the corner learning to read
The New York Times
The polluted smell of everything hanging around her body
Thinking of yesterday when Fernando told her
“If you love me – you have to prove it”
She was sitting there
Hating the endless hours of the night
Those that passed looked at her with inviting eyes
That wanted to come out after her
Black and Puerto Rican kids playing Cowboys and Indians
After dark in the backyard streets
Where all of them
The Rats, the Dogs, the Cats, and the Pushers
Hold their daily meetings
She was sitting there
Hating herself for accepting a defeat that loved her
The lonely traffic passing by
Bars and liquor stores on every corner conditioning the younger victims
While the drug dealers count their money of death
Thinking of yesterday
Her trip from Puerto Rico and her first introduction
To the New York cold that ravaged her body
Sitting there
Thinking of yesterday when Freddie played her wrong
Accusing her of being a Puta for no reason at all
He is now happily married to a girl
From Queens who makes love to the dog next door
Thinking of yesterday
The dances, the parties, and the James Bond movies
She loved so much
And now
Waiting for the overdose of everything to take effect…

Poetic Story #4: Letter for Iris
It was long ago yesterday
The oldies, the gangs, the wine
Trying to find definitions to everything
Everyone refusing to speak Spanish
Stupid heavy accents
Keeping our welfare secrets to ourselves
You didn’t reveal anything until years later
It was long ago yesterday
The oldies, the gangs, the wine
Going to sets during school hours
Drinking that terrible wine that you disliked so much
And the Ricans and Dominicans from downtown
Rapping to you behind my back
The Latin Knights against the Young Lovers
The Sinners against the Viceroys
The Dragons against the Assassins
Jitterbugging into oblivion
Willie a junkie on Columbus Avenue
Eddie a homo on 72nd Street
Carlos a revolutionary at Attica
Sara a community leader in Washington Heights
Jose a capitalist on Wall Street
Mimi a housewife in Puerto Rico
Carmen a Puta in the South Bronx
And Miguel
Demonstrating in front of the United Nations
With fifty buttons on his jacket
It was long ago yesterday
The oldies, the gangs, the wine
Remembering those wonderful nightmares
The playground, the backyard, the roof
The fire hydrant, the basement, and those
Silent trips to the park where we made
The plans that never came
I leave you now
The oldies, the gangs, the wine
Hoping you found your definitions without regrets
I only found new inventions of ignorance by many
Refusing to open the path to their growth and development

Poetic Story #5: Suicide of a Puerto Rican Jibaro (In Mainland Buffalo)
They didn’t understand.
They were all Americans now
He would smile sometimes
Thinking about his youth in Ponce
Carmen, Rosa, Teresa and Liza
Holding on to dreams
That helped him stay alive
The tropical music that was killed
By the new sound of “salsa”
But they didn’t understand
His children didn’t understand
A million times his body was raped
By the unfriendly cold
The farm he sacrificed
To pursue the American Dream
Trying to buy some dignity in the trade
Of the unemployment office
Shoveling the snow that invaded
His tropical existence
He would walk up Virginia Street
And down Hudson Street
For some clues of understanding
New inventions of nightmares
That wanted to destroy his dreams
The dead dreams
That helped him stay alive
Were too weak
For the American nightmare
They didn’t understand
They were
All Americans now

Poetic Story #6: Milagros – A Love Story
When she was born
Her mother named her Milagros.
Her father was never around.
The neighbors said she was beautiful
but it was sad that her hair was a little kinky.
When she was fifteen years old,
she had dreams to go after.
When she was seventeen,
she dropped out of school
’cause it was the groovy thing to do.
When she was almost eighteen
she opened her legs to Papo — who told her he loved her
The night after, he told her to get the hell away.
When she was almost eighteen
she was cool, she partied, she smoked
and got down a few times
hoping someone would tell her
‘I love you’ — and means it
but time passed (and no one ever did).
When she was nineteen
she had five abortions.
When she was nineteen
she was cool, she was beautiful
selling her wasted body on forty-second street
to buy American dreams
hating the ugly smell of polluted breath
and old men telling her:
‘I love you, you Spanish girl.’

And last but not least, a poem, a pledge to help us become magical and powerful, able to become what we are supposed to become, based on what we want to do with our journey in life. If you can buy into this pledge, at least introduce it to our students, and to our young kids so they can begin to understand at an early age the concept of setting goals, and understanding the essence of an education, and finally, understanding the system of values and standards.

The Educational Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge to maintain a
Healthy Mind and Body
Staying away from the Evil of drugs
I pledge always to try my Best to understand
The importance of Knowledge and Education
I pledge to paint a Positive picture of where
I plan to be tomorrow
Not allowing obstacles to stop the growth of my Plans
I pledge to seek Answers to Questions,
With the understanding that they
Will lead to other discoveries
I pledge to work diligently
With the Awareness and Confidence
That hard work today will serve
As the seeds for my strong tree tomorrow
A tree that no one will be able to tear down
I pledge to learn proper languages,
Beginning with my Mother's
Always prepared to appreciate others
I pledge to gain a better understanding of who I am
By understanding my Cultural roots
I pledge to fully accept who I am as a spiritual and human being
A Rainbow of many cultures and colors
I pledge to overcome any Personal misfortunes
Becoming Stronger from such misfortunes
Always striving to become
A wise person.

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